Sep 23, 2012 News
Book Review: Guyana: A National Cesspool of greed, duplicity and corruption (A Remigrant’s Story) – GHK Lall
By Dr Glenville Ashby
In what can only be described as a daring literary exercise, writer GHK Lall unveils a personal narrative that underscores the need to address Guyana’s epidemic of unhinged greed and corruption. It is provocative undertaking, characterised by an engaging style and fluidity – albeit punctuated with steely coldness and seething rage. And rightly so. A repatriate, fulfilling his dream to “give back,” while savouring retirement, Lall becomes the victim of avarice and scurrilous attacks.
With bombast and righteous indignation, Lall details a series of encounters with his fellow countrymen and women – in high and low places – be they in the private or public sector – be they professionals or common-folks. Guyana, according to Lall can be likened to a human body first stricken with a malignant tumour (in this case, the political elite), that eventually metastasises, infecting every cell (the wider society).
The writer is overwhelmed with incredulity and revulsion. No doubt, corruption is a perennial problem – a cancer, a disease that saps the blood of humanity. Lall – a wordsmith, of sorts, uses instructive and piercing philosophical quotes as he unveils each chapter. He is adept – literally and figuratively identifying the malaise that is besetting the South American nation. He writes: “To say that corruption in Guyana is minor matter, is like pushing the belief that Kingston is below sea level, but the rest of Guyana is not below sea level; that the yard of the Theatre Guild in Kingston would be flooded if the Atlantic overwhelms its restraints. This is what the propagandists and spin doctors would want us to believe.”
Guyana, he asserts, “has become a nation bent double by paroxysm of a dreadful horror, and lost in a haze of self destruction”. Lall’s work has its moments of dark humour and sardonic ripples – as he derides a parade of characters – his antagonists, who are ever ready to gouge the vulnerable. He captures their every mannerism, and verbal dance in rich argot: “Doan worry, ah looking out fuh y’all…..Dere are sum procedures to follow, and dey gon be completed next week; Is Mundy, an’ is a signature da is needed…is part of de procedure.”
While his detractors will charge him with inductive reasoning, gross generalisations, and derailing opportunities for foreign investment, Lall is unrepentant, and meticulous in detailing a trail of bureaucratic excesses, duplicity, greed and ineptitude, especially in Guyana Revenue Authority, and Customs House. But his accusations run deeper – even taking aim at the judiciary, law enforcement, education, and the Deeds Registry.
Yes, his work is culled from personal experience, but as he argues, his is a reflection of a pervasive problem. And he is persuasive in proving his point.
Undoubtedly, this is an essential treatise – well timed. The tales of deceit and being conned by friends and even family members are indisputable. It is a concern for foreign nationals living in the US. Indeed, the perception of an El Dorado in the US – the spoils of which are craved – may have shaped the den of wolves that Lall painfully describes. Lall’s pen rips into Guyana, offering suggestions to combat an inexorable web of chicanery. Yes, Guyanese must take a stand – and rid these usurpers of public trust. Statutes must be impartially applied, commissions and oversight committees established, czars appointed, and ethical standards promoted, et al. But “Cesspool” has wider implications, proving more than a crusade against wanton corruption. It raises key sociological and ontological questions.
Throughout, Lall begs the question: Why are we no longer willing to work hard, walk the straight path, and pay our dues? Maybe, one of the so called seven deadly sins – greed – is an inextricable element of human nature. Maybe, it resides – latent – readily awakened by the right circumstance.
In a world driven by mass consumption and instant gratification, greed rears its head – untamed, unbridled – a worldwide phenomenon. Today, more than ever. Admittedly, Lall’s recommendations ring true, but will they ever be forcibly enacted? Hardly likely.
In the end, the writer’s harrowing experience of greed and corruption is more than an indictment of his homeland. Rather, it is an exhortation for introspection – a veritable call for a spiritual awakening in broken societies. ([email protected])
Dr Glenville Ashby, literary critic – Caribbean Book Review
Guyana: A National Cesspool of Greed, Duplicity and Corruption (A Remigrant’s Story) by GHK Lall
Published by GHK Lall, 2012
Design and Layout by Guyenterprise Advertising Agency, Guyana
Available at Amazon.com
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